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Hawaii is not just a vacation destination, it is an experience. You can relax with a tropical drink on the beach in many places around the world, but experiencing the unique spirit of Hawaii is really why you visit. Hawaii’s rich culture, traditions, and history combined with it’s natural beauty is the essence of what we seek in a travel experience. That’s why we recently chose to stay at the Sheraton Kona Resort at Keauhou Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii.  And it turned out to be the best Hawaii resort that we have ever experienced!

The Best Hawaii Resorts Have Everything that We Love about Travel

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The Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort is situated on magnificent black lava cliffs, overlooking the blue sea. Their location on the lava cliffs is unique, and due to new regulations, cannot be duplicated by newer hotels. Not only does this location provide picturesque views of the sunset, but you can always hear waves crashing on the lava rock. In fact, our room was so close to the ocean that we could hear the sounds of the ocean at night while we slept.

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The land of the Sheraton Kona at Keauhou Bay is also steeped in Hawaiian history. Long ago this area was the birthplace and home to some of Hawaii’s royalty, and it was a very important community. So their story is not a manufactured experience for the tourists, it is real. And what we loved most about our stay at the Sheraton Kona is that they not only acknowledges this history, they embrace it and live it everyday, a rare quality in a hotel. They even have a director of culture at the hotel who is involved with everything they do to ensure that it is “pono” – a Hawaiian term that means to keep it authentic and true.

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Top Notch Facilities and Activities at the Sheraton Kona Resort

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View from the lobby of the Sheraton Kona

Resting on 22 tropical acres along the ocean, the Sheraton Kona Resort at Keauhou Bay has 485 guest rooms and 24 suites, including “Ohana” (family) suites. Even the standard rooms and quite large, and have amazingly comfortable beds along with spacious outdoor lanais. The modern furnishings, nautral wood, bright colorful, and luxurious amenities really appealed to our senses. Plus, it seemed like everywhere we went we could smell fresh flowers! Even down the hallways and into our room, which we just LOVED!

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And of course, what is a hotel in Hawaii without an amazing swimming pool?!?! The Sheraton Kona has an incredible pool area that actual flows through the property. There is an interior pool between the buildings outside the lobby and some of the shops, complete with a cascading waterfall. This pool area actually extends out to another open pool area along the cliffs that overlooks the ocean! With a 200 foot “lava tube” waterslide, fountains, hot tubs, and even a sandy bottom pool area for the kids, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Plus, check out these awesome floating bean bags — how cool is that! And oh so comfortable, we could lounge on those and float around the pool all day long!

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Cultural Activities Abound

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Not only does the Sheraton Kona Resort at Keauhou Bay embrace their Hawaiian heritage and traditions, they also strive to share it with their guests in a variety of ways. Throughout the week they have different cultural activities that you can participate in free of charge. We thoroughly enjoyed learning how to make leis, play the ukulele, and dance the hula!

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There is also a historical walking tour around the property as well as a boat tour that you can take with further describes the ancient traditions and events that took place on this land so long ago.  A truly an amazing experience and we walked away with such an appreciation of the beautiful property of the Sheraton Kona.

What is a Luxury Hotel Without a Spa!

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The Sheraton Kona is also home to a magnificent spa, the Ho’ola Spa. Complete with private outdoor treatment patios that overlook the ocean, all of your cares will melt away as you are pampered in this beautiful tropical environment. Imagine relaxing in your private hot tub while watching the sunset over the ocean, then having a moonlit massage on the patio just feet from the crashing ocean on the lava rock cliffs. Sounds like paradise, huh? Yes, it truly is!

Swim With the Manta Rays in Hawaii

Keauhou Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii is home to a number of giant manta rays. These gentle creatures are special to the Hawaiian culture, and there is no better place to see them in their natural habitat. The location of the Sheraton Kona is ideal because of how it is perched on the cliffs. In fact, people come from all over to catch a glimpse or swim with the manta rays in Hawaii!

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Photo credit – Second Wave Ocean Images for Sheraton Kona

The Sheraton Kona embraces the manta rays that make their home here, and they have partnered with the Manta Pacific Research Foundation to put together the Manta Learning Center on property. Both Sheraton guests and visitors can visit the center to learn more about the rays. They can also attend a “Manta Talk” held each Sunday – Friday at 7 pm at the learning center, as well as making at stop at their manta viewing terrace at Pa’akai Point beyond the Rays on the Bay restaurant. Here guests can observe manta rays in the bay, even at night! In fact, each night the Sheraton shines lights out into the water so that guests can see the mantas feeding on the plankton.

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We actually had the chance to go out and experience this for ourselves.  It was incredible!  Check out our full post about our night swim with the manta rays in Hawaii, and you can watch our underwater video!

Rays on the Bay, a Kona Restaurant With the Best View in Town!

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There are a number of restaurants on property at the Sheraton Kona Resort at Keauhou Bay, including pool side dining and coffee shops. But their signature restaurant, Rays on the Bay, is something not to be missed. Positioned on the cliffs overlooking the bay, this is by far the best view of all Kona restaurants!  At night you can watch the manta rays swimming from your table while dining on fresh, flavorful dishes with a touch of the islands. Live music is played nightly and provides a great ambiance while dining and watching the rays out in the sea.

The Sheraton Kona is a Perfect Getaway for Couples and Families

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As travelers who enjoy a wide variety of experiences, the Sheraton Kona provided us exactly what we were looking for. While we enjoyed some of the couples activities, such as the luxurious spa and restaurants, we were also able to have some fun and adventure by swimming with the manta rays and riding the water slide in the pool (yes, we really are big kids at heart!). But we were also able to learn more about the Hawaiian cultures and traditions, and experience the history of the area for ourselves.

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Because of all these activities, the Sheraton Kona is also a great destination for families. The kids will love the lei making and hula classes, but there is also a club where they can play games and meet other kids. There are also daily activities taking place all around the resort that they can get in on, like slide races!

We Wish We Had a Week to Enjoy the Sheraton Kona Resort!

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Josh and I were so impressed with our stay at the Sheraton Kona Resort at Keauhou Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii, and we really wish we could have stayed for a full week! The staff were incredibly friendly and helpful, and the ambiance and décor was inspiring. We felt the spirit of Hawaii as soon as we walked into the hotel, and it made a real impression on us that has stayed with us beyond our visit.

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